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Gerard Manley Hopkins

R. K. R. Thornton and Melinda Creech (eds), The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Vol. 6: Sketches and Scholarly Studies: Part 1: Academic, Classical, and Lectures on Poetry

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[Lecture Notes on Poetry, II]

A further step in the development of Hopkins's ideas comes in his notes on 'Poetry and Verse', now kept as ms K.II in Campion Hall. It is a piece which relates to his fuller notes on Rhetoric, being in the same hand and on the same type of paper. The leaving of large spaces between sections, and the expansive sidenotes, suggest this is a work in progress:

Poetry and Verse

Is all poetry verse? Is all verse poetry or all poetry verse? — Depends on definitions of both. Poetry is speech framed for contemplation of the mind by the way of hearing or spoken speech, language speech framed to be heard for its ^own^ sake and interest even over and above its interest of meaning. Some matter and meaning is essential to it but only as an element necessary to support and employ the shape which is contemplated for its own sake. (Poetry is in fact speech ^only^ employed to carry the inscape of speech [sidenote: for the inscape's sake — and therefore the inscape must be dwelt on. Now if this can be done without repeating it once of the inscape will be enough for art and beauty and poetry but then at least the inscape must be understood as so standing by itself that it cd. be copied and repeated. If not / repetition, oftening, over-and-overing, aftering of the inscape must take place in order to detach it to the mind and in this light poetry is speech which afters or oftens its inscape, speech couched in a repeating figure and verse is spoken sound having a repeating figure]). Verse is (inscape of spoken sound, not spoken words, or speech employed to carry the inscape of spoken sound — or in the usual words) speech wholly or partially repeating the same figure of sound. Now there is speech which wholly or partially repeats the same figure of grammar and this may be framed to be heard for its own sake and interest over and above its interest of meaning. Poetry then may be couched in this and therefore all poetry is not verse but all poetry is either verse or falls under this or some still further development of what verse is, the speech wholly pg 308or partially repeating some kind of figure which is over and above meaning, at least the grammatical, historical, and logical meaning

Is all verse poetry? But is all verse poetry? — Verse may be applied for use, e.g. as a technica to help the memory, and then it is useful art, not μουσική‎13 ("Thirty days hath September"14 and "Propria quae maribus"15 or Livy's horrendum carmen16) and this ^so^ is not poetry. Or it might be composed without meaning (as nonsense verse and choruses — "Hey nonny nonny" or "Wille wau wau wau"17 etc) and then alone it wd. not be poetry but might be part of a poem. But if it has a meaning and is meant to be heard for its own sake it will be poetry if you take poetry to be a kind of composition and not the virtue or success or excellence of that kind, as eloquence is the virtue of oratory and not oratory only and beauty the virtue of inscape and not inscape only. In this way there may be ^poetr^ poetry may be high or low, good or bad, and doggrel will be poor or low poetry but not merely verse, for it aims at interest or amusement. But if poetry is the ex virtue of its own kind of composition then p all verse even composed for its own interest's sake is not poetry


Kinds of Verse

Verse wholly or partially repeats the same figure of sound — this explained Verse then is speech wholly or partially repeating the same figure of sound. Wholly as Partially as "Jam satis terris nivis atque dirae" — that is [Lecture Notes on Poetry, II], for the common measure [Lecture Notes on Poetry, II] (= ½ – ) is repeated throughout, wholly when you add "Grandinis misit Pater et rubente";18 or partially, taking the whole stanza, for it repeats the pg 309same beat ^figure^ for three lines but gives up in the fourth, but wholly if you rep take two stanzas. More clearly such an iambic as this — [Lecture Notes on Poetry, II] — is a partial repetition only, for this is verse though you did not add another line, and this is a whole repetition — [Lecture Notes on Poetry, II]


Verse distinguished from music It is speech because music ^we must distinguish it from music which^ is not verse. Music is composition which wholly or partially repeats the same figure of pitched sound (it is the aftering of pitched sound). Verse must be spoken or capable of being spoken


Running or intermittent repetition of the figure The figure may be repeated runningly or, continuously, as in rhythm (ABABAB) or intermittently, as in alliteration and rhyme (ABCDABEFABGH). The former gives more tone, candorem, style, chasteness; the latter more brilliantlycy, starriness, quain, margaretting

[Sidenote amplifying this point: There are three artistic tones — candor, chasteness, 'clear',19 which is diffused beauty; humour, which is diffused wit; and pathos, which is diffused20]

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
13 Music, culture, performance; in other words, a wider concept for the Greeks than simply 'music'.
Editor’s Note
14 What Iona and Peter Opie call the 'best-known mnemonic in the language' to remember the number of days in each month. 'Thirty days hath September, / April, June, and November; / All the rest have thirty-one, / Excepting February alone, / And that has twenty-eight days clear / And twenty-nine in each leap year.' See Iona and Peter Opie, eds, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951), 380–1.
Editor’s Note
15 The first words of the General Rules in William Lily's A Short Introduction of English Grammar (1557), known to many generations of students of Latin. See Lily's Grammar of Latin in English: An Introduction of the Eyght Partes of Speche, and the Construction of the Same, ed. and introd. Hedwig Gwosdek (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
Editor’s Note
16 The verse enshrining the law for punishment referred to in Livy I. 26.
Editor’s Note
17 The chorus of 'Zigeunerlied' ('Gipsy Song') by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Editor’s Note
18 The opening of the second poem in Horace's first book of Odes {Already the father [Jove] has sent enough snow and fierce hail to the land and with his red …}.
Editor’s Note
19 'clear' is a term which Hopkins was developing at this time. See his journal for 1870, where he writes: 'A day or two before May 14 the burnished or embossed forehead of sky over the sundown,—of beautiful "clear" '; and the entry in his journal for 3 Nov. 1873: 'A few minutes later the brightness over; one great dull rope coiling overhead sidelong from the sunset, its dewlaps and bellyings painted with a maddery campion-colour that seemed to stoop and drop like sopped cake; the further balk great gutterings and ropings, gilded above, jotted with a more bleeding red beneath and then a juicy tawny "clear" below, which now is glowing orange and the full moon is rising over the house.' CW iii.491, 566.
Editor’s Note
20 Neither this nor the paragraph which it comments on finishes with a full stop. The terms are largely GMH's own. See CW iii.438 for 'quain', which GMH uses for rocks, trees, clouds, and stars.
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